Maurice Edmund Mealing was born July 21, 1893, the eldest son of Arthur and Rosa Mealing. He was educated at Green Street School, and then followed his father into the furniture industry as a ‘french polisher’.

From an early age Maurice was interested in military matters, and in March 1911 he joined the Territorial Force of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

He enlisted in the Buckinghamshire Battalion immediately following the outbreak of WWI and after further training joined the British Expeditionary force in France in March 1915.

He was progressively promoted, ultimately to Sergeant. On May 6, 1916 he was appointed to a Commission in the Shropshire Light Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant.

But after only 10 days he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force.

After further training Maurice joined 15 Squadron in August 1916 as an Observer and aerial photographer over the Somme battlefield.

In April 1917 Maurice was sent for training as a pilot and on October 18 he joined the famous 56 Squadron. He flew a Scout Experimental S.E.5a biplane.

This was manufactured at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough.

Described as a solid little airplane, it was powered by a single V8 engine and was capable of speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

It was perhaps Britain’s most successful fighter airplane of the First World War, its strength being that it could out-climb and out-manoeuvre the enemy aircraft of the day.

56 Squadron was recognised as being comprised of the ‘boldest and bravest of men’. Between its formation in April 1917 and the end of the war, pilots of the 56 Squadron brought down 427 enemy aircraft.

Two of them were awarded the Victoria Cross, fourteen the Military Cross, twelve the Distinguished Flying Cross, and 5 received the Distinguished Service Order.

Twenty four pilots in the Squadron brought down 5 or more hostile aircraft, but no less than eleven gave their lives.

One of those who died was Maurice Mealing.

He was 24 years of age.

He went missing on March 24th 1918 when pursuing two German aircraft over the Western Front and was never seen again.

He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross on May 13, 1918 and is recognised as a World War I flying ace, credited with 14 aerial victories.